H.O.P.E trumps HATE

Immediately following the elections, H.O.P.E received two of the most appalling and degrading letters in the history of our organization. In over 11 years of serving the greater Atlanta community, we’ve never received racially-driven hate mail of any kind, so imagine how shocked, hurt, and angry we were when we read what was written.

We wanted to share these letters with you, not to encourage division, but to let our H.O.P.E family know that your continued support ensures that our single parents, who are 95% African-American, can never be categorized as “lazy”, “unemployed”, or “uneducated”.

You have given us and our students the power to combat this ignorance— and the insight to be affected by these incidents only insofar as they fuel our mission and make us even more determined to succeed in this all-important work.

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During President Joe Biden’s inauguration, we were reminded again of what it means to be fighting for the single parents raising the next generation of Americans— and no one can explain it better than poet laureate Amanda Gorman in her reading of ‘The Hill We Climb’:

“We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves so while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

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From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for all the ways you continue giving HOPE to our community.
Team H.O.P.E

 “For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” 
– Amanda Gorman, January 20, 2021

There is a real fear

If you’re connected at all to any form of communicative device, you are aware of the worldwide protest going on right now due to the countless and senseless murders of

young black men (and at times young black women) at the hands of law enforcement. For years, young black men have been murdered simply due to stereotypes, racism, and fear.

You may ask yourself, why is this something that we would address through our nonprofit’s platform. The answer is simple because 95% of the participants we have supported in our ten-year life span have been African-American. Even further, I am a young black mother, with a black husband, and four black sons. And there is a real fear. 

Just recently, my son was pulled over after work for speeding trying to pass the car in front of him, and I was SCARED. My first thought was, “NO, NOT NOW!” Because protest had been going on for a couple of days and I didn’t know if he was going to encounter an agitated cop. I prayed that he would remember to use the techniques I taught him about how to engage with a police officer if pulled over…to place his hands on the dashboard at all times, be polite and not argumentative, don’t reach for anything unless asked (and even then announce what he is grabbing), keep everything in one place so that he is not reaching in different places for the documents he needs, and lastly, if you are arrested don’t resist and don’t say a word. I’d hoped he would make it home alive and safe because I’ve seen videos of young black men murdered during a routine traffic stop even when compliant. And for what? Fear. 

Much of why we do the work we do at H.O.P.E, Inc. is to break barriers and defy stereotypes. I didn’t want to be a statistic, and neither do our single parents. They work hard to fight the double standards of society that pre-judge their ability, professionalism, intelligence, and even their worth because of the color of their skin. We support education with hopes that they can be taken seriously and earn a liveable wage to avoid a life of poverty. This movement helped birth H.O.P.E, inc. before it was named because it is a fight that African-Americans have had to fight since we were brought to this country.

We are blessed to know that we are supported by a diverse group of people that help us break barriers every day. They see the passion of our single parents and they care, but do they care enough to stand? It is imperative that their voice is heard just as much as ours so that we can live out the dreams of civil rights icons like Martin Luther King, Jr. that fought for equality.

There is a real fear and African-Americans are tired. We’re tired of dying, and I hope if you are not African-American that you are tired of reading about it and are moved enough to protest, talk to people you know that have the wrong view of what’s happening today and support your black and brown brothers and sisters. This is humanities fight, not just ours.


Kenita Smith, BBA, MBA, MA
President/CEO & Founder
H.O.P.E, Inc.